Not sure what to make of this new effort …

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Several news stories crossed the Pack News Wire this morning, concerning the development of a new group hoping to be a resource for information on the topic of the welfare of farm animals in Iowa.

The Sioux City Journal reports several groups are teaming as the Iowa Farm Animal Care Coalition – “Iowa State University colleges of Veterinary Medicine and Agriculture and Life Sciences and the state veterinarian’s office at the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship” and animal welfare experts and agricultural industry leaders.

The article notes this: “” The state Farm Bureau Federation and Pork Producers Association are funding the project. “” But the executive director of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa will also be on the advisory committee.

I hope this a good step forward for the welfare of animals on factory farms in the state. But I’ll admit I’m looking at this with a bit of caution. Will the factory farming industry really move forward, with concern for the emotional and physical well being of the animals?



Farm Sanctuary: Rescued pig named “The Doctor” cares for the other residents

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John Corbett, the star of “Sex and the City” and “Northern Exposure,” narrates a Farm Sanctuary video about “The Doctor” – pig at a Farm Sanctuary shelter who helps care for the other pigs.

From the press release:

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LOS ANGELES – January 7, 2013 – “We should all learn to live life like a pig,” concludes John Corbett at the end of “The Doctor,” the latest installment in Farm Sanctuary’s “Animal Tales” video series. And after spending 3:07 minutes getting to know arguably the most charismatic pig to grace screens since Babe, it is impossible disagree.


In “The Doctor,” Corbett’s famous voice brings us the story of a life-loving pig who earned his name for his endearing assistance to medical caregivers at an emergency rescue site. “I love The Doctor!,” says Corbett. “Many people don’t realize that pigs and other farm animals form strong social bonds and want to help get each other through tough times, just like we do. When you hear about the intense devotion The Doctor showed to his sick and injured pig friends following the Iowa floods of 2008, it changes the way you think about pigs. We should all be so lucky to have a friend like The Doctor.”

Farm Sanctuary’s “Animal Tales” project launched in October with Allison Janney’s story of a shy chicken named Symphony and continues to tap some of Hollywood’s most recognizable voices to share the magic of Farm Sanctuary’s shelters and the farm animals who call them home. Farm Sanctuary residents are ambassadors for all farm animals on factory farms, and each one has a story to tell.

Check out John Corbett’s new video “The Doctor” and learn more about farm animals at

Farm Sanctuary’s three shelters in New York and California provide lifelong care for almost 1,000 rescued farm animals. These animals — including The Doctor — are ambassadors for the billions on factory farms who have no voice, and their stories help raise awareness about the harsh realities of factory farming.

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First Pack News Wire of 2013

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Hope everyone had a safe and pleasant New Years Night. A couple of our rescues are a bit fearful about the fireworks, but it wasn’t too bad.

Let’s start the year off with some news items that crossed the Pack News Wire over the last couple of days.

We need more of this: An egg producer in the UK is being recognized for its high standards of animal welfare. Yorkshire Farmhouse is known as the UK’s largest producer free range eggs. The company has seen a significant increase in sales over the past several years, disproving the false claim that companies must use inhumane factory-farm tactics to be profitable.

Michigan Humane Society program working with at-risk kids: The Humane Society of Huron Valley is working with at-risk kids to turn the tide of animal cruelty. We need more programs like this all across the nation – in schools, churches, etc – for all kids.

18 charged with attending a dog fight: In Indiana, 18 people were arrested and charged with attending an animal fighting contest. The big problem? – These are misdemeanor charges.

The state legislatures all over need to make sure any association with animal fighting is a serious felony.

In Michigan has increased the penalties for animal fighting: Way to go Michigan. As of now, dog and cockfighting operators can be prosecuted as a criminal enterprise and the penalties can run up to 20 years in prison, with fines up to $100,000.

Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law on December 12. The USA Today reports – “” The new laws also allow police to seize homes and vehicles associated with animal fighting; shut down any venue associated with animal fighting and declare it a nuisance; and add animal fighting, shooting and baiting to the list of racketeering crimes. “”


HSUS: Nine employees at Wyoming factory farm charged with animal cruelty

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The Humane Society of the US is reporting nine employees at Wyoming Premium Farms, including the assistant manager, are facing counts of animal cruelty.

It has happened again and we don’t know just how widespread this level of cruelty on factory farms across the board really is. I suspect we are seeing the tip of a terrible iceberg. Reportedly, the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Platte County Attorney’s Office have filed the charges.

I found the news on along with a link to the undercover video. Warning: the images are graphic.

Most likely, if the accused are found guilty, they will be handed very light sentences. Until our criminal justice system understands the term “justice,” the progress will be slow in terms of defeating animal cruelty once and for all.


Farm Sanctuary video: What Came Before

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The Farm Sanctuary has asked that I post the following information on the blog.

Be forewarned, the video is very difficult to watch, as it shows graphically what animals on factory farms suffer through every day. While it’s hard for us to watch, the horrors experienced by the animals are infinitely more difficult.

From the Farm Sanctuary:

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This holiday season “Jackass” star STEVE-O wants to “introduce you to someone you’ll never forget.” Starring in a new 10-minute film short titled “What Came Before,” the star best known for inflicting pain on himself is on a mission to end the pain and suffering of the billions of animals raised for food inside America’s factory farms.

WATCH the film short here.

In the film, Steve-O introduces viewers to Nikki, Symphony, and Fanny — three animals who found refuge at Farm Sanctuary, America’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization. But even more gripping than their escape stories is what came before: the life they endured packed inside modern factory farms. “What Came Before” takes viewers into the lives of Nikki, Symphony, and Fanny, and will forever change the way we look at what we eat.

“I have a tough stomach, and I’ve put myself through a lot,” says Steve-O. “But when I first found out what happens to animals on modern factory farms and in today’s slaughterhouses, I wanted to throw up — I literally couldn’t believe it. I narrated this video for Farm Sanctuary because I’m committed to doing what I can to show people all the disgusting things that happen to farm animals, and encouraging everyone to make more compassionate choices. I love that when someone does a Google search for ‘Steve-O explicit video,’ they’re going to find ‘What Came Before.’ I hope a lot of them go vegetarian.”

Check out Steve-O’s new film short at

Farm Sanctuary’s three shelters in New York and California provide lifelong care for almost 1,000 rescued farm animals. These animals — including Nikki, Symphony, and Fanny — are ambassadors for the billions on factory farms who have no voice, and their stories help raise awareness about the harsh realities of factory farming.

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Actress Shannon Elizabeth is 2012 spokesperson for the Adopt A Turkey Project

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The Farm Sanctuary has announced actress Shannon Elizabeth is the 2012 spokesperson for its Adopt A Turkey Project.

From the press release:

Shannon Elizabeth

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As 2012 spokesperson of the Adopt A Turkey Project, “American Pie” star urges dog and cat lovers to extend their compassion to turkeys this Thanksgiving

LOS ANGELES – October 18, 2012 – What do dogs and turkeys have in common? According to Shannon Elizabeth (“American Pie”), the new 2012 spokesperson for Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt A Turkey Project, they both want our attention. “The first time I met turkeys face-to-face, I couldn’t get over how they enjoyed my attention just as much as my dogs do!” exclaims Elizabeth. “Seeing firsthand how sweet and affectionate turkeys are, I could no longer separate them from how I thought about my dogs at home, who I always want to feel safe and protected.”

As spokesperson for the annual project, which gives people the opportunity to “adopt” one of the rescued birds who reside at Farm Sanctuary’s shelters in New York and California, Elizabeth has a simple message for fellow dog and cat lovers: “If you are like me and oppose animal cruelty, start a new tradition and adopt a turkey from Farm Sanctuary’s Adopt a Turkey Project.”

More than 26 million turkeys are currently confined in miserable conditions and slaughtered each year for the Thanksgiving holiday. For more than 25 years, the Adopt A Turkey Project has provided support for the care of more than 1,000 rescued turkeys, while inspiring people everywhere to make more compassionate choices that protect animals. For a one-time donation of just $30, adopters receive a special adoption certificate complete with color photo and fun details about their adopted turkey.

To learn more about the Adopt A Turkey Project, visit or call the Turkey Adoption Hotline at 1-888-SPONSOR.
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Farm Sanctuary tells Symphony’s Story

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Farm Sanctuary has launched a new video series – Animal Takes. In the first video, actress Allison Janney narrates the story of Symphony, a hen rescued from a factory farm after a tornado destroyed the facility.

From the Farm Sanctuary press release:

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Prepare for Symphony, Sonny, and The Doctor to give Benji, Lassie, and Maru a run for their money when Farm Sanctuary, America’s largest and most effective farm animal rescue and protection organization, launches “Animal Tales,” a new video series that taps some of Hollywood’s most recognizable voices to tell some of the most captivating animal stories the world has never before heard. Viewers will be charmed and delighted by these moving videos that capture the charming personalities of the rescued cows, pigs, chickens and other farm animals who call Farm Sanctuary home. With more than 9 billion farm animals exploited and abused annually on America’s factory farms, the series — and its growing list of A-list supporters — looks to be around for a while. Each video will be available on Farm Santuary’s web site ( and YouTube.

“Most people don’t realize that old time farming is long gone. Farm animals face extreme brutality on modern ‘animal factories,’ and their stories of survival, against all odds, are dramatic and compelling,” says Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “’Animal Tales’ will satisfy people’s never-ending appetite for amazing and heartwarming animal stories, while fostering a better understanding of farm animals, who are just as sweet, humorous, gentle, and endearing as the dogs and cats who share our lives.”

The series launches today as actress Allison Janney tells the story of a shy chicken named Symphony whose life was saved in an ironic twist of fate when the Ohio factory farm where she was confined was destroyed by a natural disaster. Watch the tale unfold here.

Next up:

The Doctor:
John Corbett’s famous voice brings us the story of The Doctor, a charismatic pig who earned his name for his endearing assistance to medical caregivers at an emergency rescue site.

Téa Leoni shares with us the happy ending for Sonny, a forgotten calf whose destiny turned toward recovery when he was rescued from a livestock auction site.

To learn more about the fascinating world of farm animals, visit

Farm Sanctuary is North America’s largest and most effective farm animal protection and rescue organization. Since 1986, Farm Sanctuary has worked to expose and stop cruel practices of the “food animal” industry through research and investigations, legal and institutional reforms, public awareness projects, youth education, and direct rescue and shelter efforts. Farm Sanctuary shelters in Watkins Glen, New York; Orland, California; and Los Angeles provide lifelong care for hundreds of rescued animals. These animals stand as ambassadors for the billions on factory farms who have no voice, and their stories help raise awareness about the harsh realities of factory farming.

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Greed is taking over

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The old saying – ‘Money is the root of all evil’ – has never been more factual than it is in 2012. As the issue relates to the typical subject matter of this blog, animals are too often the victims of greed. That is a given.

But the problem is also larger and covers territory across a wide spectrum. What is war typically about? One country or group wants what another country or group has. It might be land or it might be more. But it’s about taking something – physical or not – that belongs to someone else.

The unending desire for more and more and more wealth or just amassing stuff tends to act as a steamroller over the innocent people and animals who happen to find themselves in the way.

Companies send the manufacturing of their products to China or other cheap-labor nations because the labor is cheap – period. The lower the costs, the more salary goes to the CEO and to the corporate presidents and vice-presidents populating the upper levels of these companies.

I’ve long wanted to believe that in my lifetime I might see the trend reverse, to a point where compassion mattered more than profit, where at least people mattered more than gross sales. I’m beginning to wonder if we can ever get there.

Greed is seeping deeper and deeper into our society, like a horrible infection. Enough is never enough.

In one area of the mix, what I see are politicians calling for a roll-back of protections for the environment. If people get sick from the air they’re breathing or the water they’re drinking, that’s a small price to pay for better corporate profit margins. I see the factory farming industry trying to throw up an iron curtain around its facilities, after recent cases of abuse uncovered with undercover cameras.

The extremists who defend GREED as their religion slam anyone who might have the nerve to suggest the health of children should come first. They don’t want regulations that might protect the health and welfare of ordinary citizens. There is a cost to protecting the public health and it eats from the pigsty where CEO bonuses might come from. And to the corporatist, the animal-welfare advocates are the wackos? – Really?

If I’m labeled as a wacko for speaking up for animals and children, I’ll take that label and throw it back in their faces.

Subway joins the list of national eatery chains pushing for animal welfare on factory farms

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A news story popped up this morning on the Pack News Wire, reporting Subway has joined the growing list of national restaurant chains calling for better treatment of animals on factory farms.

Over the next 10 years, the company hopes to completely eliminate the use of pork from sows in gestation crates. And the New Haven Register story reports the company has set a goal of using only free-range eggs. Good move, but I have to add that 10 years is too long. I understand these things move slowly in cases such as this, but pigs will still be suffering for a decade. We advanced our space program in less than decade to put a man on the Moon. Banning gestation crates can happen much, much faster; I don’t care what anybody says.

Subway has added an animal-welfare section to its website and the article suggests the list of companies pushing for more humane housing for sows includes McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Oscar Mayer, Costco, Safeway and Kroger.


Pack Topics: Factory farming and undercover video

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I found an interesting opinion piece by Baylen Linnekin on the website concerning the topic of undercover video on factory farms. (I know very little about this website and did not take the time to find out more about its leanings.)

The editorial seems balanced, noting the conflict between property rights and privacy on one side and the need to expose abuse – for the benefit of human health and animal welfare – on the other side.

The Central Valley Meat slaughterhouse case and recent release of an undercover video has prompted more discussion on this issue. The plant was shut down but is back open, just days later.

Several states are outlawing undercover video by animal-welfare groups. I understand the arguments concerning privacy, but these laws are clearly more about throwing up an iron curtain to hide acts of extreme animal cruelty and to hide practices the offenders don’t want consumers to see, in terms of food safety and animal welfare.

Linnekin correctly wraps up her editorial with this – “” Ag gag laws, which stifle this flow of information, protect a particular category of business while offering no public benefit, and impose a prior restraint on speech, are wrong at their very core. “”

Sadly, if the USDA was doing it’s job, it would be engaged in trying to uncover these horrors. The animal-welfare groups shouldn’t have to be the ones who are going in to uncover the terrible things going on behind the closed doors on factory farms. The USDA should be protecting the animals and us.

But again, it seems a federal agency and some state governments are protecting corporations over people. Why? – Because the corporations have bought their way into running the federal and state legislatures – within the ranks of Republicans and Democrats.

I’m all for capitalism, but not in the form of a system where the government is run by the corporations, which has been the trend for decades now. It’s not true in all cases or on all issues, but on the gauge where the public good is on one side and corporations are on the other, we’ve lost the balance and the needle is way over the corporate end.